What will the future of connected devices look like?

(Image credit: Honor)

Infrared, Bluetooth, NFC. Over the years, there have been various ways to connect our devices. If you’d have told someone ten years ago how many smart devices you use each day and which ones work seamlessly together, they’d have been dumbfounded. 

As much as technology has advanced, the way our devices connect is far from perfect. There are concerns about privacy and security, certain products only work within specific ecosystems, reliability isn’t always guaranteed, and there are missed opportunities to make smart home tech truly useful. 

Industry experts believe a new era of connectivity could be on the horizon thanks to connectivity protocols, 5G, collaboration tools, wearable sensors and much more. These developments will allow us to use our devices more intuitively, leading to better working, better smart homes, better health and well-being and, ultimately, better lives. 

In time for all of the announcements at IFA — the majority of which will be about connected tech — we’re asking: what will the future of connectivity look like over the next few years?

Smartphones and smart homes

Smart home technology has been game-changing for many people, allowing them more energy efficiency, security, peace of mind and control over their homes. But there are still problems, including security, compatibility and reliability, to name just a few. Smart home tech is often only as good as your WiFi connection and the ecosystem you’ve bought into.

But the way your smart home works will soon be shaken up in a major way thanks to Matter. A new smart home protocol launched as a joint effort by the biggest names in the smart home space — and it’s sorely needed. 

Right now, people can’t buy the smart home device they want. They have to make sure they have the right hub at home, the right accessories, the right assistant and the right ecosystem. It’s confusing and not beginner-friendly — no wonder some people are still scared of smart home tech. 

But it’s not just bad news for consumers. There was a time when signing someone up for your tech ecosystem made total sense for brands. Now that’s not always the case. If people feel tied to a brand, they might resent having no choice and switch off from the promise of the smart home altogether. 

That’s why many of the major smart home brands are joining Matter to make it easier for everyone — those that make the tech, those that sell it and those that buy it. 

Matter ensures smart home devices work well with each other without the need to buy from the same brand, download new apps, or sign into accounts. In theory, your Ring doorbell from Amazon should work well with your Amazon Dot, Google Home and Apple iPhone.

But Matter doesn’t just solve compatibility problems. It also promises greater security, data protection, and more reliable connections. 

All of the names behind Matter will soon launch products—or update old ones — to align with the new Matter protocol. Alongside brands like Google and Samsung,  Honor's name is in the list of Matter participants.

Connect and collaborate 

Better connectivity leads to better productivity. If devices work well together, you don’t have to waste time signing into new accounts, unplugging cables or emailing yourself the latest version of presentations. 

We predict that over the next few years, it’ll be standard for all devices used for productivity, especially laptops and tablets, to be automatically and wirelessly interconnected. 

Apple already delivers some great connectivity features within its ecosystem, called Continuity. This allows you to connect Apple devices and share content and information across them. For example, AirDrop allows you to wirelessly send documents, photos, videos and more from one device to another. At the same time, Auto Unlock gets you access to your Mac when you’re wearing your Apple Watch.

Other brands now realize the potential of ensuring experiences across apps and devices are joined up, including Honor. The brand has recently launched Honor Connect, which allows you to share content, files and media across devices without logging into accounts or downloading apps.

Many of Honor Connect’s features are small and handy for everyday work. For example, if you right-click a document on your computer, there’s an option to send it directly to your phone — ideal for working on the move. But there are other more significant features, too, like multi-screen collaboration. This allows you to project the screen of a mobile phone and mirror it to a computer desktop. Once it’s on a large computer desktop screen, you can view three of the phone’s app windows simultaneously. 

Plenty of these features allow for more flexible and fun entertainment, too. Like a split-screen movie mode, which lets two people watch two different movies from one screen and control the audio and action with their phones.

We expect to see even more intelligent collaboration between devices in the future and enhanced interoperability between smartphones, tablets, computers, wearables and more. It’s possible to imagine a paradigm shift in how we work in which people don’t even think about which devices they need anymore but move fluidly between them.

Wear and share

Wearable devices will become more intelligent, smaller, and helpful over the coming years. 

They will become more accomplished medical devices. Not only tracking information about your workouts, steps or heart rate but collecting data about your body that you’d have had to visit a hospital to find out. If wearables fulfil these crucial roles, they’ll need to be capable of more reliable connectivity. Right now, wearable tech is often connected to a single kind of technology — like WiFi or Bluetooth — but they’ll need to access multiple network technologies to ensure they’re always on and continuously tracking all-important health metrics.

Wearables will also become more integrated into your smart home, allowing you to automatically identify and connect surrounding devices to adapt to your preferences. This could work in tandem with health data, too. For example, your wearable might detect an elevated heart rate, so it could automatically create a calming atmosphere in your home with warm heating and relaxing lighting that will help you to destress. 

Although we might think of wearables as solely health and fitness devices aimed at those keen to improve their lifestyles, in the future they’ll be used as tools to enable productivity, unlock and authenticate devices, keep an eye on important medical data and tailor your tech to your unique physiology. 

According to the IFA website, Honor will deliver a keynote speech called Embracing the Connected Future on September 2nd — this makes sense considering Honor’s name is listed in the Matter project. We’re looking forward to seeing what the brand has planned to help usher in the new era of connectivity.